[re/posted]scribbles from the den

When the idea was first hatched to put forward South Africa’s candidacy for the 2010 World Cup, it seemed a far-fetched dream. And when FIFA actually awarded the tournament to South Africa, it was, in the view of many, a gamble destined to fail. However, after six years of turmoil, controversy and acrimony later, South Africa is finally set for the 2010 World Cup tournament.

For the next month, (legitimate) concerns about the financial toll of the tournament on South Africa’s economy, the absence of concrete benefits for large swathes of the South African population, or about FIFA’s stifling rules will be put on the backburner as the world enjoys the beautiful game.

Dori Moreno

Dori Moreno is one of those unapologetically afflicted by ‘World Cup Fever’:

I have been waiting for the World Cup to arrive ever since the announcement was made that it would be hosted in South Africa. It’s difficult to get excited about something happening so far into the future. But now, the World Cup is upon us, and in just 2 more sleeps, South Africa will face Mexico in the kick off game of the 2010 World Cup. And South Africa has woken up and is alive with energy, passion and enthusiasm.

 ‘Today, the Bafana Bafana team took to the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg in an open top bus. South African fans came out en masse to celebrate and get a glimpse of their national team. The vibe was indescribable and when the Soweto Marimba Youth League played the national anthem, I confess to being moved to tears from the sheer emotion and energy of the event.


‘I think even the die-hard pessimists out there will struggle not to get caught up in the positive energy that will carry us all on a cloud for the next month. To everyone out there, I say, ENJOY! To all the visitors to our awesome country, feel it, live it and fall in love. It’s time for AFRICA!!!!’

Jeanette Verster’s Photography

And talking about the June 9 ‘United We Stand for Bafana Bafana’ parade organised in Sandton to encourage South Africans to show their support for their national team, Jeanette Verster publishes a colorful picture essay that vividly captures the national excitement.

Brand South Africa Blog

Brand South Africa Blog hopes that the unity and patriotism demonstrated in the run-up to the World Cup will last long after the tournament:

‘The past few months have been an incredible sight. Road works, bridges being built and the most spectacular, the giant eye which watches over all of us from the entrance to the V&A Waterfront. To say I feel proud would really be an understatement, although true. Undeniably through all of this is the tangible feeling of patriotism, excitement and unified spirit in the air.

‘Flags, Zakumi’s (official World Cup mascot), soccer jerseys everywhere makes me feel that we can unite as a country, evident in the progress made.

‘*** I love SA ***

‘The feeling I hope for South Africa is that we stay this way long past the end game is played. Everyone is watching and can see that through working together and progress, we can be pushed into another league and be part of a set of countries people all of the world would like to visit sometime in their life.

‘So, Bafana, we are behind you 150%, make us proud and do your best.

‘Visitors to South Africa, our country is beautiful, take the opportunity to visit places off the beaten track you’ll be pleasantly surprised and p.s. don’t forget to shop!’

Constitutionally Speaking

Even as the excitement builds up, there is anger just beneath the surface over a number of (FIFA-inspired?) decisions which do not benefit South Africans. One such issue is the apparent blanket ban on public gatherings in many municipalities for the duration of the World Cup. Constitutionally Speaking argues that:



‘If this is true, it would mean that parts of South Africa are now effectively functioning under a state of emergency in which the right to freedom of assembly and protest have been suspended. This would be both illegal and unconstitutional. Other reports have suggested that such orders were indeed given, but that the police are now backtracking – probably because the police have realised that they are breaking the law and that the order, in fact, constitutes a grave breach of the law and the Constitution.

‘It is a sad day indeed when the police itself become a threat to our democracy and our rights because Fifa and the government want us all to behave and shut up for the next month and to forget about our democratic rights.’

Scribbles from the Den (and betwixt en between the lines: a video diary of the ‘Q[/t]’ werd)

Scribbles from the Den takes us back 20 years to a memorable World Cup game which is now part of the football folklore and which credited to have changed the World Football Order in favor of African countries:

‘Exactly 20 years ago on June 8, 1990 at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium in Milan, Italy, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, “a humble team with an insignificant past” to quote the Miami Herald, defeated Argentina, the star-studded defending World Champions led by Diego Armando Maradona, in a thrilling Italia ’90 World Cup opening game that came to be known as the “Miracle of Milan”…



‘The victory over Argentina was merely the beginning of Cameroon’s Cinderella story which came to an end only after England ousted the Lions in an epic quarterfinal game that is also part of World Cup folklore. Cameroon’s brilliant run in Italia ’90 in general, and its historic win over Argentina in particular reverberated around the world and changed the Football World Order forever…

‘The aftershocks from that memorable Friday afternoon at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium would be felt years later first with FIFA increasing the number of African teams taking part in the World Cup from two to five, then with the “browning” of European leagues which opened their doors to players from the continent and in the process unearthed African football prodigies such as “King” George Weah of Liberia, Same Eto’o of Cameroon and Didier Drogba of Cote d’Ivoire.’

Up Station Mountain Club

As the football fiesta goes on in South Africa, Charles Taku, a lead counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, wonders whether Africa has any reason to celebrate as many states turn 50:

‘Africa is sick; very sick indeed. It is safe to state that at 50, there is nothing to celebrate. Rather than celebrate, Africa should be engaged in a moment of soul searching to find out where we went wrong and to generate ideas about how to resolve the myriad problems afflicting the continent…



‘There is no gainsaying that Africa is a victim of its colonial heritage. It is also true that many African problems are self inflicted. For that reason, according to Peter Schwab, Africa is its own worst enemy.

‘As Africa enters the second half of the century, there is a compelling need for it to eschew all pretensions to celebration and to use the opportunity of the moment to search for viable solutions to its plethora of problems. Our collective failure enjoins us to do a lot of soul searching at this point of our history rather than celebrate a failed past in anticipation of a bleaker future. Africa and the black race in general need to take their destiny into their own hands once again. Time has come for all black people of this world to invoke the spirits of Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, CLR James, the Osagyefo Mwalimu and others whose mere mention of name give us the inspiration, courage and hope to start all over again, in seeking a path of glory they once laid out for us.

The time to build and improve on what they started for our collective survival in a mercilessly competitive world is now. Waiting for dictators that preside over the destiny of most of the continent at present to pave that path to glory is simply foolhardy, if not suicidal.”



Kumekucha

Kumekucha explains how he believes the ruling elite plan to rig the August Referendum for the proposed new Kenyan Constitution:

‘Folks I am afraid that I have more bad news for you concerning the new constitution most of us are yearning for. Let me start by confessing that for a person with my years of experience I was rather naïve to believe that those who own Kenya would ever allow for an electoral system that they did not have any control over. The truth is that the so called “tamper-proof” electoral roll has already been tampered with and non-existent voters introduced. And since it is NOT the same electoral roll that we will go to the general elections with, the only conclusion is that the intention is to rig the August 4th Referendum.

‘The game plan by the powerful owners of Kenya is for the NO camp to catch up with the YES majority so that the difference is around 20% or less. What will then happen is that NO will win with a very slim majority. Enough to deny most Kenyans what they are yearning for so much that they can no longer sleep too well. Those wh o have read the document and realize the sweeping changes it will bring into the country and the deadly blow it will deal to impunity.

‘What really scares me is that so far these powerful forces have been able to get things done through the NSIS and have even influenced the judiciary to make certain bizarre rulings. To me that is evidence enough that they are quite capable of going ahead with their well laid plan even as the president tires himself crisscrossing the country campaigning for a new constitution.’


BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dibussi Tande blogs at Scribbles from the Den.

 

(re) introducing the q[/t] werd: a video diary

It ain’t no mystery that we (been) preparing for dis’ (not-so) new film & video projects: nekkyd & the Q[/T] werd. 

season 1 features 32[+4]stories en the magic is in  retelling of OUR stories

some of the [extra] ordinary people featured [en behind the scenes] include: anitafrika dub theatre, blackness yes! and blockorama, bombastic kasha, bunge la mwananchi, bredrin and dadas in solidarity, colour me dragg, [is] the crux, deb singh, Elijah Masinde, elimu sanifu, faith Nolan, funkasia, the funketeers, gender education and advocacy project, house of munro, Ishtar, kalmplex, nikki mawanda, nneke dumele, red lips. cages for black girls, swagger, tajudeen abdul raheem, victor mukasa, en the Yoruba house project

A love letter to rafikis, [aka.] bredrin and dadas in solidarity.

 

b is for blackness yes! and blockorama

here’s (yet) another article by my brotha (of another mama), simiyu barasa

Nairobi, KENYA – ‘Pornography is the theory, Rape is the practice’ -Robin Morgan

Pornography has, literally,been viewed from all angles. In universities, ladies have dropped from literature classes after reading Ayi Kwei Armah, D.H.Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and David Maillu’s After 4.30, claiming that they are pornographic. Yet in the movie halls films on sex are the craze, and one can’t visit any room without finding the roommates reading glossy porn magazines. One of the ladies, disgusted by all this, almost burnt magazines because the pictures used to advertise cars “expose too much” of the feminine body and thus are ‘pornographic.’ She claims that pornog raphy subordinates women, triggers and promotes violence against women, is immoral, dirty, perverted and bad. But is pornography really to blame for all this?

There has been controversy even in the feminist literary circles, where one group advocates for a total ban on pornography because it denigrates women and another group promotes pornography because they think that it liberates women. It is therefore important that all gender activists debate on the contemporary literary dialectics of feminism, female sexuality and pornography.

What exactly is pornography? Probably the best attempt at its definition is given by Andrea Dworkin, a feminist writer, and her lawyer compatriot, Catherine Mackinnon. Known as the Dworkin /Mackinnon ordinance, it summarises pornography as “. .. the graphic, sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words” that also includes those in which women enjoy being raped, are seen as sex objects, reduced to their sexual organs, are seen as whores by nature, or as being penetrated by objects or animals.

When our girl says she walked out of the movie hall because the pornography shown there depicted women as sexual objects, she implies that a woman is a tangible object. Raping a woman indeed is treating her as a sex object. Is it the same as in Dambudzo Marechera’s streams of consciousness in House of Hunger, where it is the mental act of fantasizing about having sex with her, a similar case of treating her as a sex object?

By focusing on the ‘body’, we exclude the ‘mind’.

Linda Moncheck in Feminist Politics and Feminist Ethics recognises liberal feminists who see sexual objectification based on physical bodies as what has domesticated women, shackling them to domestic duties and making them mere sex objects to their husbands. They have to eradicate this and press for access to economic and political power that will emancipate them. This is through doing ‘mind’ jobs like astronauts, doctors, etc.

In literature, and especially writing by women, this creates a problem. Don’t women want to be treated as objects of sexual pleasure when they dress up nicely for dinner? Is this not a form of sexual objectification? What then makes one form of sexual objectification good and another one bad?

In the movies and drama, don’t the women want to hear their perfect figures praised? They surely do not want to be treated like philosophers and discuss Cartesian dualism in bed, neither would a movie having a Wole Soyinka discussing African mythiopoesis during foreplay sell.

Linda goes further to show how valuing the mind over the body is no liberation for the woman who enjoys physical sex. Patriarchal societies can even use the superiority of the mind, which such feminists want, to make them ‘sexual’ factors e.g. when a male worker finds his female senior a turn-on due to her brainy nature (“I find her attractive, not because she is beautiful, but because she is intelligent”)

Social feminists seem to offer an answer to this when they propose a rejection of the metaphysical distinction between the mind and the body, and hence a rejection of the moral and aesthetic evaluation we place on the mind at the expense of the body. However this use of dualism would be a paradoxical fall into the anti-feminist trap of using the same traditional values defined by the same patriarchal society they intend to free themselves from.

Our girl also said that pornography subordinates women. One wonders why, in the South African theatre circles, and even causing more controversy when staged here in Kenya, feminists put up a production of The Vagina Monologues that was, to some conservertists, nothing short of vulgarity bordering on pornography.

One is also reminded that in December 1985, Richard Shchener’s Prometheus Project was staged at the Performing Garage in the U.S, to critical acclaim by gender activists. Its central image was the link between the Promethean fire and the Hiroshima bombing. At the end, Annie Sprinkle conducts a masturbation show-within-show. Psychoanalytic feminism supports this as true feminism celebrating women’s genitalia.

When our girl claims that Maillu’s ‘pornography’ about bar room prostitution is for ghetto people and thus is not an art but dirt she invites Marxist feminism to task.

Some feminists see banning of porn as a class argument, where the middle-class identity in a bourgeoisie culture protects itself from contamination.

In Kenya, what people despise as ‘pornography’ are films shown in the Eastland area, while “Kamasutra” and its likes being shown in Nairobi and the Fox Cineplex are seen as ‘erotic’ movies.

Erotica is defended as High Art and as about sexuality (Florida 2000 cabaret shows, D.H.Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Jackie Collin’s Hollywood novels, Playboy magazines and a host of other ‘White’ publications).

Pornography, in turn, is ferociously attacked as back-street trash that needs to be banned because it is about power and sex as a weapon (Mugithi nites in our pubs, Maillu’s After 4.30, and Okot P’Biteks Horn of my love). But where is the boundary between erotica and porn? Erotica is simply the pornography of the elite.

Other feminists, like Jacquelyn Zita in her article ‘Enclitic,’ see a ban on pornography as perpetuation of male dominance. It divides women into good ‘respectable women’ protected by their men (husbands, boyfriends and fathers.) The bad women are out there in the streets unprotected by men. This marks off the privileges of upper-class women against the economic and sexual exploitation of lower class women exemplified by Maillu’s Lili.

Even Susan Sontag, a feminist, is one of the best defenders of porn, for it is “extreme forms of consciousness that transcends social, personality and psychological individuality … because sexuality is the main force of humanity”.

To argue that Maillu’s works are immoral and full of perverse acts would force us to jump into metaethics. If literature is for freedom, then whoever says that pornography is bad has the right to give us advice, but not to impose it on us. Moral advice needs to have justification. Male chauvinists can argue it is an invention by females to serve their agenda.

If our hypothetical outraged girl searched for them in the moral market place that is religion, she can find it exists in all of us. If she links it to the deviation from normalcy because sex is for procreation not literary production, she steps onto the toes of radical feminists who view heterosexual relationships as essential in maintaining the oppressive phallic nature of men, for sex is seen as a manifestation of the anti-feminist violence implicit in the discourse of the dominant power structure.

The fundamental question now remains are we saying that pornography does not subordinate women? Are we saying that CAP.63 sec.181 (1)(a-e) of the Kenyan constitution, which says that anyone caught with pornographic material is liable to be imprisoned is obsolete?

Porn is not the subordination, but a depiction of the subordination of women.

Maillu’s After 4.30 does not subordinate women. It exploits an already existing misogynist attitude for commercial gain.

It shows how bosses exploit their secretaries like Lili after working hours, with one eye on literature and the other on the market value of this controversy. Such works, to quote Dworkin, show how women are humiliated until they finally realise that the ‘O’ in each of their body orifices is a ‘zero’ which symbolizes their nothingness in a man’s world.

These literary works do not encourage violence and rape but they reinforce the already existing negative attitudes towards women. It makes women fall into patriarchal mental slavery that makes them full of contempt for their bodies, so much so that they hate seeing themselves exposed in public. This confines them to domestic spheres.

Literature does not support this. It seeks to resist any systematic devaluation and humiliation of a spec ific target group, be it race, class, or sex.

It however accepts that this might be difficult to engineer if it were to involve tampering, not just with the circulations of magazines and books, but with the modes of thoughts and fantasizing which are not the prerogative of one sex only.

Our hypothetical girl should return to the Literature Department of her hypothetical university and learn that such works like Maillu’s tap into already existing stereotypes. She should also, by now, realise that Maillu, Armah’s and Lawrence’s works are not pornography for they do not fulfill the Dworkin/Mackinnon ordinance.

Literature does not condone pornography. Instead, we should all castigate some of those numerous movies and magazines that go further to represent such evil acts in order to gain financially from the amusement of others. We should condemn pornography and its businesses. It thrives by exploiting the profoundly pernicious enjoyment too many men find in the pornographic images of demeaning subordination.

Blogger’s note: as a pan-afrikan(ist)/feminist, I’d have to disagree with the premise and conclusions of my brotha (in another place, not) here, in his ‘literary’ analysis of the connections between pornography and feminism.

In my (not-so) lil’ ‘one-of-u-people’ position, najua that black feminism is intersectional and sex positive, fundamentally implies that we should not only condone [consensual] pornography but also educate ourselves en others about all the ‘good’ tings’ there are in our sex/uality, so that we KNOW  the difference between de good, bad na taboo.

So that we continue to legislate en support anti-oppressive (re)visions of  the current statutes on pornography, rape, sex work, sodomy, marriage, our right to assembly and privacy…

the bigger point is that , in (honor en memory of) audre lorde’s teachings, ni kama the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house……..na tukona de powah of afrikan fractals.

 Literature, like a gun, depends on the hands it is in.

You ended your literature, blood and doves article with that (poignant en) powerful line, and I agree/d with you in that other place, not here, ndugu…..

precisely because literature CAN and HAS been, like a (loaded) gun, we have to be careful about using it to encourage the criminalization of some of the very people we claim to be advocating for, and strive instead to emulate the ‘good’ in us, doing the best we can to educate in (and for) the practice of freedom, au siyo?

One can play Russian roulette with a loaded gun, kill oneself or an/other (son of a bitch), en you can also remove the bullets, continue to play pretend, jus’ so everyone can continue to ‘think’ you’re tuff’, you can try to hide your darkness, buried deep within.  And ofcourse there’s always the (other) option of Jus’ change/ing and embracing our true true stories, spread(ing) love, (to) gain over/standing.

dear ndugu, literature does actually celebrate, glorify and pathologize sexuality in so, so many ways, WE  all know, because we see, hear, taste, embrace en witness this around us, so what about reflecting the light of sex/uality and decolonising methodologies?

Literature does not condone pornography. Instead, we should all castigate some of those numerous movies and magazines that go further to represent such evil acts in order to gain financially from the amusement of others. We should condemn pornography and its businesses. It thrives by exploiting the profoundly pernicious enjoyment too many men find in the pornographic images of demeaning subordination.

So your conclusion may be way off base [depending on where you look at it from ofcourse], pornography does not equal images of demeaning subordination, and it is not only (too many) men who find profoundly pernicious enjoyment in consuming these images…..the issue may be in jus’ what you glossed over, the consumption of….and these new ‘pernicious’ traditions of debasing [fe/male] sex/uality.

 if we weren’t living in a white supremacist capitalist partriarchal society, and instead in say an indigenous afrikan martriachal society, then there might be way less consumers than actors, lovers, priestesses, freaks, hos and those old couples needing to spice tings up..in that kinda world, everyone would be free to enjoy consensual sex, with guidelines and rules to all relationships influenced by the individual, the ‘village’, and principles (based on something) like maat/ubuntu…..

Look at all the sex/ing around us…why do you think it ain’t that simple to jus’ reclaim (philosophies on) sex work and build bath houses (and temples) for the ‘chosen’ ones?  And why is there much less good porn than there is those straight ‘lesbian’ or cheesy ‘gang-bang/er’ ones?

Maybe we need to advocate more for the institution of affirmative action policies in the sex (work) industry, which would eliminate a lot of the ‘oppressors’ (strategically mis-identified as mostly) straight.white.men (!)

Our (kinda) feminism advocates consensual Sex acts for anyone, anytime they want it, no cop harassment, and as much sweaty, positive sex as you want or can afford instead.

Where [sex]workers are employed in safe spaces and paid fair wages.

 In other words, our kinda feminism practises the vision of a society that respects hos and mamas for their priceless gifts and ancient legacies.

So, dear ndugu, why don’t you listen to what your SISTA has to say on the issue of pornography, if you ask me nicely, I might even introduce you to some delicious, dangerously profoundly enjoyable, totally feminist porn flicks, like champion or crash pad, and there’s many more that (not only) I(‘ve) enjoyed, so I know the differences between good, bad en nasty porn out there, and I gotta confess I quite love the jood stuff,

dear ndugu, asante for writing out and sharing your thoughts on what is necessary to rebuild solidarity with OUR  cause, the liberation of not only all afrikan people, but all oppressed people , may we move forward ever with our growth and unity! The bigger point is, dear brotha, can we be friends and share resources?

Tags

 I give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow. I give thanks for the gathering for the memorial of the death of Elijah Masinde, and our deepening connection with egun en those yet to be born.

Bless our ancestors, bredrin and dadas in solidarity en pikney. I pray that you forgive my sins, those that I do and don’t know about. I pray for my family, friends, enemies, and that I may not have any enemies…..Guide us to our right [full] destinies.

I pray for health and prosperity not only for myself but for others. Bless those who heal and look after themselves AND others, en (gran) mama earth.  

Ase. Ase…..

 I invite you to listen to dis’ poem and consider dis quote found (again) in a post on http://www.blacklooks.org/

“The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became
blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”
Revelation 16:3

 

Sankofa! Our ancestors are not gone, we stand on their shoulders, (as) they live deep in (around en under) us.

so consider then dis’ (pre) Obituary of Simiyu Barasa

Written by Himself

 Focus [on Afrika]: Kenya view 

When you find yourself talking with several guests of the morbid situation of your country during the wedding of one of your friends, you quickly realize there is something wrong with your country. When your National broadcasters show men being dragged out of public service vehicles and hacked to death by a mob of young men who do not even hide their faces from the police a few metres away, and such scenes are repeated more than the advertisements and commercials, then your country is doomed. When you hear that people are chased from their homes into a church for belonging to a particular tribe, and then followed into the church where women and children are locked inside and then burnt alive, my friends, you are no longer in a country, you are living inside hell on earth.

The Swahili (oh, that language that was supposed to unite us and now has been rendered impotent in its intended super-glue powers) – the Swahili say that when you see your friend being shaved with a razor, start wetting your hair in preparation for your shave too.

I do not intend to go gently into that dark beyond without saying a word of goodbye. Friends, (and those who consider me an enemy because of my tribe or lack of it), being of sane mind and in charge of my mental faculties, I bid you goodbye. I chose to write you an obituary, which you should read as a love letter to my country that has died in that critical moment when its dreams were giving birth to a beautiful bouncing future.

I know not the hour of my death, for no one knows the hour of their death in this country anymore. That man on Naivasha, who was dragged from the car and his speech as he answered questions betrayed him as belonging to a tribe the highway blockers were hunting down, he did not know his death. I have seen myself trying to run from the mob the way he desperately tried, machetes raining on his back, and yet he ran on, three desperate steps, before his body disintegrated into huge chunks of human flesh and fell down. Upon which they cubed him. I too, my friend, am about to face the same death. My tongue, when I try to speak, shall definitely betray me as a targeted tribesman when the mob does come to me. For I do not belong to any tribe.

My sister, Rozi, called me yesterday trembling with fear. She lives in Western Kenya, on the Eldoret/Kakamega border. They had taken a patient to Moi Referral Hospital Eldoret. On their way back, the ambulance was stopped by youths bearing all forms of crude weapons. They demanded to know which tribes everyone in the ambulance belonged to. The driver was of the local tribe, so he was told to step aside. As the others showed their National Identity cards, my sister realized that all around them were corpses of human beings freshly chopped to death. Her turn came and she said she was Luhya. They told her to speak in Luhya, but my Sister doesn’t know Luhya. “I really can’t speak it because my mother is a Taita!” she pleaded. She had to desperately show a photocopy of my mother’s National Identity card which she had in her purse, a photocopy my mother had given to her the previous week to use as a referee for the bank account she was switching to. That photocopy saved my sister. The only language my sister can speak, apart from English and the National Swahili, is Gikuyu. The tribe the youths were targeting.

My friend, I know no tribe. I only know languages. My mother is Taita, my Father is Luhya, and we were raised in Kiambu among the Gikuyu. It has never been important in our family to know which tribe we should belong to, my sisters and brothers have names from both sides of our parents communities. In this chaos, if the hunters of fellow humans were to find us in our house, would they really believe we are brothers and sisters from our names?

If I say am Luhya, the Gikuyu with whom I have lived and now am engaged to one of their daughters would kill me as they have gone on a mission to revenge the deaths of their kinsmen in Western Kenya. If I flee to my parent’s home in Luhyaland, the neighbours will barbecue me alive for I can’t speak their language and of course my mom is from a foreign tribe. Not to forget that the guy who sold us that piece of land where my mom and Dad saved so hard to buy is known to come and insist on grazing his cow on our compound claiming “my cows used to feed here, buying the land doesn’t mean I don’t own it!”

Now in this Nairobi where I stay, I am wary of my neighbours. The guy opposite my flat is a Luo with whom we argued amicably during the pre-election period on which party we supported. Maybe now, given that friendly neighbours have been the ones killing each other, he might remember our political chats over my litres of coffee and come chop me up?

That is why friends, I have decided to write this obituary. I know not my tribe, I have only known myself as Kenyan, and others as fellow Kenyans. In these times, belonging or not belonging means not being dead or being seriously dead. What chances does a person like me have?

My friends have their tribes mates to protect them. The cosmopolitan Nairobi has now been balkanized with residential estates being exclusive reserves of certain tribes. Complete with murderous gangs imported from up-country to protect their own. Mungiki for the Gikuyu, Chingororo for the Gusii, and the Baghdad Boys and Taliban for the Luo. Where, pray I, is the estate Balkanised for those of us of mixed heritage who know not their war cry of their tribal warriors? The only two tribes I can run to don’t have such armies. And claiming my Dad’s Luhya identity, and a Bukusu at that, is problematic in itself. The Gikuyus are hunting them down claiming they voted ODM together with the Luos, and the Luos are hunting them down too claiming they voted for Kibaki together with the Gikuyus. So such is my fate for my father belonging to this tribe that voted 50-50!

My friends, I have prepared myself for my death. I don’t know how it will be, but since as a Film and TV drama person I believe in rehearsals, I have rehearsed all possible scenarios so that when my moment comes, it won’t be so hard to take it. Chekhov’s method acting manuals are no longer needed. I just turn the TV on during news time or read the papers, and from the several images of people who have been killed in various ways, I choose one to dream and perfect that night. I have dreamt of being locked into a church or building with several others and torched alive. I have smelt the petrol fumes as its being splattered through the window onto our bodies and then round the building. I have seen the flash of the matchstick being lit, and smelled my flesh burning to ashes.

I have rehearsed how I will smile when I am dragged out of a public vehicle and hacked to pieces by the marauding youths who pop up in our numerous roads. I want to die smiling bravely, but just like the guys I see on Al Jazeera and other International TV channels, the moment I get to that part where a red eyed bearded man pokes his head into the bus and shouts “everyone wave your ID cards in the air!” I wet myself and start screaming for mercy, instantly easing their work of identifying foreigners for the blades to work on.

I have rehearsed how best to gasp when a barbed arrow strikes my chest. Or a club smashes my brain out of my skull. Or a spiked plank of wood is driven through my mouth. I have died so many times, my friends, that now I must be immune to the real death when it comes.

I used to laugh at tourists buying maps of Nairobi. I bought one recently. It is stuck in the wall of my bedroom where small pencil marks indicate all the escape routes I will try to walk in to get out of town once the mayhem knocks on my door. Unfortunately, to the west are roadblocks where my Luhya name will mean instant death. If I go Mombasa Road I might run into a roadblock where Kamba’s and all coast people are being cubed. To the North I can’t even dare. To the south I might pass, coz I can speak Gikuyu, but my name would be my passport to the grave yard. That map, my friend, directed me to writing this obituary.

Maybe if I was a famous poet I would go down in history alongside Chris Okigbo, the Nigerian poet who went to Biafra seeking to actualize his poetry but found bullets instead. My friends abroad are asking me if I am safe. Maybe if I had been bright of mind like they were I would have faked a bank account statement immediately I cleared my o-levels and fled to the United States to wash toilets in between my degree courses, but no. When they told me America is the land of dreams, I swore to them I am an Africanist, a believer in the African dream. When they filled scholarship forms to get away from this dark continent, I laughed at them. Now my faith in my country has faded faster than the newness of the new(s) year.

So, friends, some of us never really thought that our tribe was that important. Simply because we were from the tribes that make up Kenya. Some of us have lived in every province of this once great nation and learnt the local languages, drank the local brews, danced the local songs-so well that the locals even gave us the names of their tribes to fondly call us by. I have been called Kamau, Mwanganyi, Wambua, and even Bayelsa in Nigeria. (I should have known, when Dudun told me that Bayelsa is the troublesome state of Nigeria where the Delta is, that it was a premonition of the war in my country.)

I have nowhere to go. No tribe to run to. No tribesmen to protect me. Except the grave. Which is what my fellow country men are intent on sending all those who don’t belong to their tribe. Goodbye, friends.. Seeing that all fast food restaurants have a notice ‘pay in advance’, let me take the cue and say Goodbye in advance. When you see a pulp of human flesh in the tarmac with youths dancing round it waving their bloody matchetes, look closely. That ear might be mine. That grinning upper lip might be mine. I loved you, my fellow countrymen. I loved without thinking of your parental lineage. I loved Kenya. But look what this country has done to me: sodomised my sense of humanity and pride. 

Jan. 30th   2008, Nairobi

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKK3D0H9fWo]

Feminism: (as) a transformational politic  

“We live in a world of crisis – a world governed by politics of domination, one in which the belief in a notion of superior and inferior, and its concomitant ideology – that the superior should rule over the inferior – effects the lives of all people everywhere, whether poor or privileged, literate or illiterate.

Systematic dehumanization, worldwide famine, ecological devastation, industrial contamination, and the possibility of nuclear destruction are realities which remind us daily that we are in crisis…..

Feminism, as liberation struggle, must exist apart from and as a part of the larger struggle to eradicate domination in all its forms….the separation of grassroots ways of sharing feminist thinking across kitchen(table)s from the sphere where much of that thinking is generated [read institutionalised], the academy, undermines feminist movement.

It would further feminist movement if new feminist thinking could be once again shared in small group contexts, integrating critical analysis  with discussion of personal experience(s).

 It would be useful to promote anew the small group setting as an arena of education for critical consciousness, so that women, men (& trans folk) might come together in neighbourhoods and communities to discuss feminist concerns….It is in this commitment to feminist principles in our words and deeds that the hope of a feminist revolution lies.

Working collectively to confront difference, to expand our awareness of sex (gender), race and class as interlocking systems of domination, of the ways we reinforce and perpetuate these structures, is the context in which we learn the true meaning of solidarity.

It is this work that must be the foundation of feminist movement…..

True politicization – coming to critical consciousness – is a difficult “trying” process, one that demands that we give up set ways of thinking and being, that we shift our paradigms, that we open ourselves to the unknown, the unfamiliar.

Undergoing this process, we learn what it means to struggle and in this effort we experience the dignity and integrity of being that comes with revolutionary change.

If we do not change our consciousness, we cannot change our actions or demand change from others.

Our renewed commitment to a rigorous process of education for critical consciousness will determine the shape and direction of future feminist movement……

 

Feminist focus on men: a comment

…now we can acknowledge that the reconstruction and transformation of male behaviour, of masculinity is a necessary and essential part of feminist revolution. Yet critical awareness of the necessity for such work has not led to the production of a significant body of feminist scholarship that fully addresses these issues. Much of the small body of work on men has been done by men…..

(yet) just as love relationships between females and males are a space where feminist struggle to make a context for dialogue can take place, feminist teaching and scholarship can also and must necessarily be a space for dialogue….it is in that space that we can engage in constructive confrontation and critique…..

[Youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gmvx8suFr3M&NR=1%5D

Blogger’s note: these teachings are symbolic of the great work that has been done and that is still ahead of us in healing not only ourselves, but the world, and in liberating not only ourselves, and ALL Afrikans, but ALL people. The bigger point of sharing teachings that have transformed not just me, but many others is simple: to reconnect, relocate and rebuild (our) communities with (big) love en more bredrin en dadas in solidarity….afrika moja!

Writing autobiography

The longing to tell one’s story and the process of telling is symbolically a gesture of longing to recover the past in such a way that one experiences both a sense of reunion and a sense of release…..

To G…., who is she: on using a pseudonym

Bell hooks is a name that comes from my family. It is the name of my great-grandmother on my mother’s side…claiming this name was a way to link my voice to an ancestral legacy of woman speaking – of woman power.

[between the lines: molisa nyakale is also a name that comes from my family. It is the name of my great-great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, and a mark-er of my true true home….claiming this name was also a way to link my voice to an ancestral legacy of wom(b)an speaking]

When I first used this name with poetry, no one ever questioned this use of a pseudonym, perhaps because the realm of imaginative writing is deemed more private than social….after years of being told that I said the wrong things, of being punished, I had to struggle to find my own voice, to feel that I could speak without being punished…

in using the pseudonym, I consciously sought to make a separation between ideas and identity so that I could be open to challenge and change.

Though by no means a solution to this problem, a pseudonym certainly creates a distance between the published work and the author….longing to shift attention away from personality, from self to ideas, informed my use of a pseudonym…the point of the pseudonym was not to mask, to hide my identity but rather to shift the focus, to make it less relevant

Excerpts from Talking Balk: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

In honour of the legacy of tajudeen abdul raheem (en many many ancestors who dedicated their lives to the liberation of all afrikan peoples)

this post is dedicated to bredrin and dadas in solidarity…nakupenda. bless those who work for truth, justice, reconciliation & peace.

 ase.ase.

 

Afrika moja! Afrika huru!

Ase. o.

.

 I give thanks for yesterday http://www.nation.co.ke/magazines/-/1190/920652/-/hf43kez/-/index.html,

today, tomorrow (en next week): kwasababu it’s beginning to look more like (even) with all the (many/mis) steps backwards, with every ‘other’ determined (people) step(ping) forward (ever)….  

working for unity by teaching ourselves en others  (the practice of freedom), in a genuine commitment to (big) love  

In dis’ resistance (from the margins- na- moyo-ya the world) to (all kinds of) oppreshun,

We come (back) to our true true stories;

[like/dis’ Artist Intensive: Bio-Mythology and Creation with Bamidele Bajowa and d’bi.young anitafrika (A) This special workshop for creators explores the Yoruba pantheon and archetypes in the development of new work as a lens for approaching inter- and cross-cultural performance. Participants will explore the Yoruba symbology with Nigerian master storyteller/ drummer/babalao Bamidele Bajowa, and learn the ‘biomyth orplusi principles’ for creative interpretation and adaptation with acclaimed dubpoet/monodramatist/educator d’bi.young anitafrika. This hands-on and immersive class will look at pathways for integritous trans-cultural creation and how to approach cultural adaptation with honesty, respect, accountability and artistic ingenuity]

 [like/dis’ word! sound! powah! is the final episode of d’bi.young anitafrika’s seven-year-old biomyth trilogy. three faces of sankofa.

blood.claat is the first and benu the second. The trilogy charts the journey of three generations of afrikan-jamaican- becoming- afrikan-jamaica- canadian womben in one family: mudgu sankofa, her daughter sekesu sankofa, and sekesu’s daughter oya sankofa.

 In word! sound! powah!, the grand-daughter of mudgu negotiates her own identity to the backdrop of a mythologized revolution and the birth of dubpoetry in Jamaica]

 

 (all power to the people) fulfilling the legacies of our ancestors (en the wishes of the unborn).

 

I give thanks for bredrin en dadas in solidarity doing the best that we can to unite our people,

By any means necessary (in honour of Mama Afrika)!

 

From the book: “A Return to the Afrikan Mother Principle of Male and Female Equality”, by Oba T’shaka

“Human life on earth goes through the same spiral zigzag path of change and transformation that the cosmos follows. The movement from positive to negative, from Negro to Black; from civil rights to human rights from injustice to justice; from reform to revolution; from the lower self of “me first,” to the higher self of my family, people and humanity first; from the lower self of greed and egoism to the higher self of simplicity and selflessness; all of these transformations are part of the cosmic spiral—the Spiral of MA’AT (Truth, Justice, Balance, Wisdom, Love). The progression of consciousness, the progression of history, the progression of human character from a lower to a higher level occurs because, as we go through the cycles of life, as we learn the lessons of Maat, the lessons of the cosmos.

As we internalize these lessons, we transform our thoughts, words and actions to conform to Maat.

We ascend the spiral ladder of transformation through the cycles of life, rising to the level of perfection where the body becomes one with the soul.

From the blog: http://imperfect-black.blogspot.com/2010/05/raceandhistorycom-return-to-afrikan.html

Read more @ RaceandHistory.com

 

I give thanx for you….

dear (friend/blog) read(enspeak)ers

(asante. artists, activists en extra/ ‘ordinary’ people for sharing y/our resources).

I give thanks for papa na mama,

(wind) dada(s) en (soul) brotha (s/uns of another mama).

I pray for those who pray for not only ourselves but others, en who bless me (with their energy, love, en 2cents on balance, justice, truth and wisdom)

I give thanks for you, my love(s)…..nakupenda.

ase.ase.ase.ase…..

yesterday (en today), in typical ‘alice in wonderland’ fashion,

 I re/connected with 6 (+some) afrikans that I met randomly in my travels ‘downtown’, around my ‘old’ hood(s)…. [4 dadas, (a gran) mama/s, en a brotha from Uganda].

all with werds of love, peace en conflict(s), en (the struggle for)  unity, no mention of the world ‘cup’ in our reasonings…

lakini, hii hadithi ni ya akina dada na mama wa afrika so why shouldn’t we (be) question(ing) the ‘musical’ controversy of (sasha fierce vs.) shakira vs. Freshly ground vs. K’naan as the official mascots for what has become an epic gathering of (the world) masses? (my two cents, why not pull another ‘Michael Jackson’ act &  have ‘all the stars’ perform together?)

 

Why shouldn’t we also be questioning our allegiance to ‘popular’ consumer culture that does little to alleviate the status (quo) of the masses (other than provide a soundtrack for escapism)? 

If we put as much energy in(to) revitalising the Organisation for African Unity, as we did into arts, sports, war (en) our education, then we could [read as: would] reasonably attain the U.S of Afrika within a decade, EN  have all the entertainment we want to occupy ourselves with, au siyo?

Why wait for (vision) 2030? we already know (more than) the basics of where we’re coming from, (more than) enough symbols to inspire a(n. Anti-imperialist) pan afrikan renaissance……

 [read the crux of the “Q” werd as ‘others’: according to anti-capitalists, it’s capitalism,  orthodox ‘mainstream’ feminists may posit it as white supremacist.partriarchal.imperialism…others still, like black nationalists, have conjured ‘back to Africa’ movements and afrikan feminists should technically invoke Mama Afrika herself…. the bigger point is, the crux of this hadithi all depends on where you’re at….hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji….]

 “…A Pan African movement is therefore an indispensable prerequisite to the struggle for a second liberation. However, as we already noted, the African bourgeoise class which inherited the colonial nation-state has proved a complete failure in terms of genuine development. It merely sees its mission as that of maintaining and preserving the inherited system and therefore the status quo. That is what Economic Recovery Programmes (ERP)  really mean. That is also the objective of Structural Adjustment Programs: to rehabilitate the colonial structures. That is why (Frantz) Fanon noted that the phase of this class ‘in the history of under-developed countries is a completelly useless phase’. After it has destroyed itself  ‘by its own contradictions, it will be seen that nothing new has happened since independence was proclaimed, and that everything must be started again from scratch’ (1963, p.142). It therefore means that if the Pan African movement is to spearhead the struggle for the Second Liberation, it has to be rooted in a different social strata, the strata of the popular masses who bear the burden of SAPs, re-colonization and deepening under-development. Therefore in the words of Walter Rodney in his contribution at the 6th Pan African Congress: ‘The Unity of Africa requires the unity of progressive groups, organisations and institutions rather than being merely the preserve of states’ (1976, p.34). Let the people take over if African unity is to be genuine and permanent…..[from Conditions for Africa at Home by Chango Machyo w’Obanda

These ideas are not new, I heard (read as) learnt them from many Pan-Africanists en anti-imperialists of diverse brands. Preaching love and doing the best that we can to practise the change we see with/in en around us….

we KNOW when we’re on the right path, in the right place, at the right time, when everything happens jus’ so, en there is peace with in/side.(en) Out.

Our communities and collective well being that so many agitate, dream, theorise en organise about are all that we have…so what does having everything with/in to bring the change we need mean, if not everything, kitendawili?

Tega! betta late than neva!

hadithi? (hadithi?)

give me a song of freedom, kama nyimbo cia dini ya msambwa, ifa, mau mau,

(na) nipe mji……